Dead Sea Choir - The Thin One The Red One
Record Label: Brass Ltd.
Release Date: Jan. 13, 2009
The most startling aspect of Dead Sea Choir's grandiose, arena-art rock debut The Thin One The Red One is that it was constructed inside a bedroom in Tulsa, OK and not in a Manchester studio. This is no slight against Tulsa, but one wouldn't expect a place as humdrum and unassuming as Tulsa to be the hometown of such an ambitious Brit-inspired musical project. That is the case though on this 10-song stunner, self-produced, mixed and engineered by 24-year-old lead singer Costa Stasinopoulous.
A self-admitted fan of Radiohead and Coldplay, Stasinopoulous and guitarist Daniel Gimlin formed the group after a few years fronting a local act known as Straight Lines. The band had limited success in Oklahoma and after they were informed that a 1970s band had used the same moniker, they went about starting anew. The duo rotated band members for roughly a year before settling on a final lineup.
The Thin One the Red One took more than three years to make and it's this simple fact that might account for its lofty ambitions and startling power. Though long-winded in numerous places, the disc is so forward-thinking and artful, an immediate comparison might be Of Montreal. No, not musically or sonically, but rather in the same abstract sense. That is to say, the psyche of Kevin Barnes is probably one of a select few that can honestly understand exactly what's going on in these 10 songs.
While it may be hard to follow, this epic album has a veneer of seasoning and audacity that one would expect from a band many albums into their career, not one just starting out, especially from someone as young as 24. That such is true makes The Thin One The Red One a truly stunning achievement. What's more impressive is there is nary a hook, chorus or anything even potentially radio worthy offered here. And yet, the songs are so contemporary and so commercially viable, it's silly to think this album won't make a splash, if it gets into the right hands.
For starters, vocalist Stasinopoulous has a big earthy, emotive croon that immediately calls to mind folks like Guy Garvey, Jeff Buckley and Thom Yorke. The album's only letdown is that it never allows Stasinopoulous the full room to roam here. Often times, he seems to yield his vocal limits to a wash of guitars and sonic fuzz. And oh yes, there's plenty of sonic fuzz. There's also a dash of piano arpeggios, sweeping strokes of reverb, a host of dissonant guitar work, sporadic strings and a plethora of blips and bleeps. It's this penchant for electronica, fuzzy static and random percussion that allow the Radiohead comparisons to last far beyond the vocals.
On the full bloom of "Image D93" and the undeniably precise "On the Up and Up," the band wields their talent and fine-tuned precision to a T. The twinkling piano on "Move it Child," sounds more like a Viva la Vida B-side than that of something concocted in the Sooner State, while the heavy use of electronics on "Oriental Drippo," sounds more like Hail to the Thief than that of America's heartland.. None of this is a bad thing, however. Heck, there should be more songs as gripping, operatic and elegaic as "The Ceiling."
In truth this album might be too ambitious for its own good. Songs change tempos so quickly and dramatically, almost meandering at their own volition, without any regard for pace, chorus or conclusion. It's all a bit head-scratching and awe-inspiring at the same time. One thing is certain though: A new barometer has been set for the Oklahoma music scene and it's easy to think it's a barometer that won't get passed for quite a long time. As an added bonus, the album's liner notes and CD art are more than worth purchasing. Skipping out and buying a digital version would not do this band the proper artistic justice.
Big fan of both. Golden Smog's album Another Fine Day, which came out two or three years ago, was incredible. As for the Jayhawks, Rainy Day Music floors me every time.
I'm from the Twin Cities so I grew up on The Jayhawks, Son Volt, Soul Asylum, and Smog...I would highly recommend checking out earlier releasing from both. My favorite releases from the 'Hawks and Smog are:
The Jayhawks - Tomorrow the Green Grass
Golden Smog - Down By the Old Mainstream (this has some of my favorite Jeff Tweedy cuts, too)
Why not get a bag of free and real Dead Sea Salts to listen to the Dead Sea Choir with. I know a place that is giving away a free bag with any order you make! I came across it looking for freebies. This album sounds cool too, maybe I will hear them on the radio or something. Would be cool to hear them if I ever come across them when exercising. Link is in my signature.